Informal care givers support disabled stroke patients at home but often feel inadequately trained, poorly informed, and dissatisfied with the support available.
The studies involved 300 stroke patients and their care givers. Care givers provided either conventional support, or were trained in basic nursing tasks, moving and handling skills, and personal care techniques. All patients and care givers were assessed at three and 12 months.
Trained care givers experienced less anxiety, depression, and had a significantly higher quality of life than non-trained care givers.
Although patient deaths and disability were not influenced by caregiver training, patients whose care givers had received training reported significantly improved quality of life and psychological wellbeing.
The costs of care over one year for patients whose care givers had received training were also significantly lower (£10,133 v £13,794).
Although the practical importance of the effects of any intervention on quality of life can be difficult to interpret, the significant improvements associated with caregiver training are likely to indicate an important effect that has implications for clinical practice, conclude the authors.